I’m all about doing plenty of research before I visit a new community. I make a list of must-sees, but I also try and add a few off-the-beaten-path places.

Here’s a list of five such places that many locals may not even know about, but that I would highly recommend visiting in Hendricks County, Indiana.

1. Burnett Woods Nature PreserveBurnett Woods Nature Preserve in Avon

  • Where is it? 8264 E. County Road 100 South in Avon
  • Where can I park? In back of the Light and Life Methodist Church.​
  • Who’d love it? Hikers, families and those with a case of wildflower fever.

This 68-acre wooded nature preserve is the county's only dedicated state nature preserve and is managed by the Central Indiana Land Trust. This is a great place to take the kids on a hike and teach them about trees and wildflowers as it is preserved as an example of what once was common in this region and what our ancestors encountered when they arrived in Central Indiana.

For more information about this hidden gem, click here.

2. Hot Blown Glass

Hot Blown Glass in Clayton is the private, backyard studio of Indiana Artisan Lisa Pelo. But the great thing about Lisa is she doesn’t keep this precious hideaway or her glass talents to herself.

Visitors can try the intricate art of glass work by creating a simple piece like a paperweight or pumpkin on their own under the direct guidance of Lisa by appointment. Guests come away floored by the experience and the art they create without any previous experience. But don't just show up on her doorstep! Appointments are required. Call the number above and talk to Lisa before making any plans.

3. Longstreet PlayhouseLongstreet Playhouse in the Maplewood community

This historic former church tucked into the community of Maplewood, between Danville and Pittsboro, is home to the Hendricks Civic Theatre. Here's your opportunity to see live theatrical and musical performances in the charming atmosphere of Longstreet Playhouse year round. 

4. Pittsboro 1883 One-Room School

Take a step back in time and arrange a field trip to the Pittsboro 1883 One-Room School. "Schoolmarms" provide groups (both adult and kids) with the history of the school and an opportunity to live history by becoming a member of the class set in 1892 at the One Room School. This truly is a one-of-a-kind field trip that will be a memorable experience for everyone involved. This is another location that is by appointment only.

For more information, including how to arrange a trip, click here.

 5. Vandalia TrailVandalia Trail in Coatesville

  • Where is it? From Amo through Coatesville to the Hendricks-Putnam County Line.
  • Who’d love it? Outdoor enthusiasts, hikers, horseback riders, walkers and families.

Embrace the outdoors by walking or biking the 4-mile-long rail trail that runs along the route of the former Vandalia Railroad. An aggregate equestrian trail runs parallel to the pedestrian trail. Enjoy the scenery of rural Hendricks County and utilize the modern restrooms, water fountains and bicycle repair stations at each trailhead.

For more information about the Vandalia Trail, click here.